He lyrical subjectis the person who is expressed in a lyric poem. This person is a creation of the poet, who uses it to express all his feelings through him .Under these circumstances, it can be said that it is the voice of the poet that materializes in poems and stories. It is also known by the name of lyrical self or poetic self.
In this sense, he acts as a mediator for the poet. Thus, it manifests feelings, dreams, desires, reasons and experiences. It is the voice through which the feelings and thoughts of the writer are specified. This can be a character from mythology, an animal or a human being who has a voice that is his own and at the same time is not.
Furthermore, some specialists give the lyrical subject an enunciative capacity in the lyric poem. This statement, however, is not intended to communicate or influence worldly facts in any way. Rather, the underlying intention is to verbalize an experience inseparable from its enunciation.
Precisely, this differentiates the lyrical subject from other subjects with sentences of current use in the language that they do have the intention of communicating and influencing the external world.
These statements can be historical (the subject is personally involved in his statement) or theoretical (they state a fact regardless of its own existence).
Characteristics of the lyrical subject
The lyrical subject is designed to develop personal themes or feelings. The need that drives you to do this is the repressed desire to express intense emotions or specific moods. Through his intervention, he unleashes the inner world of the poet and reveals an overflowing sensitive charge.
The emotions described by the lyrical subject are extreme. Among them we can mention love, death or any loss that affects the author.Sometimes, other emotions are also represented, as long as they are intense (nostalgia, hope, sadness, optimism and hatred, among others).
In poetry, the lyrical subject is subjective. Unlike a story, poetry paints an inner impulse of the poet of which the poetic self becomes the spokesperson.
This subjectivity is expressed by the use of abstract nouns. Among them we can highlight longing, sadness, happiness and enjoyment, among others.
Withdrawal from reality
While it is true that lyrical poetry deals with the reality of the author’s emotional charges, it is kept away from worldly facts.
It is for this reason that the lyrical subject does not address descriptions of environments. In cases where he is forced to do so, he does so only to give a frame of reference to the feelings he conveys.
The lyrical subject is always expressed in the first person. This fictitious subject places the focus of his discursive on another being on whom he turns his emotional charge from the author. The exterior influences him only to accentuate his lyrical self.
So this translates into “mono-centricity.” This means that all the semantic material is concentrated around the same person, the issuer (lyrical subject). All the power of the work is found, in essence, in the gestation of that unique speaking self.
An excerpt from a poem by Rafael Alberti Merello (1902-1999), a Spanish poet belonging to the group known as the “generation of 27”, is attached below. Then, a small analysis of the lyrical subject will be made.
Ballad of the bicycle with wings
“At fifty years old, today, I have a bicycle.
Many have a yacht
and many more a car
and there are many who also already have a plane.
At my fair fifty, I have only one bicycle.
I have written and published countless verses.
Almost everyone talks about the sea
and also of the forests, the angels and the plains.
I have sung justified wars
peace and revolutions.
Now I am nothing but an outcast.
And thousands of miles from my beautiful country,
with a curved pipe between his lips,
a booklet of white sheets and a pencil
I ride my bike through the urban forests
down the noisy roads and paved streets
and I always stop by a river,
to see how the afternoon and the night go to bed
the first stars are lost to the water … “
Analysis of the lyrical subject
In this poem, the lyrical subject or poetic self to which the poet Alberti refers is that of a man who, at 50 years of age, takes stock of his life. This balance is made in terms of comparison with those who, at the same age, have others.
The poem begins the comparison by developing the contrast between what the poetic self has and the others. The object of comparison is related to the means of locomotion.
Specifically, a bicycle becomes the humble symbol of what this self has achieved in life as opposed to what consumer society offers with its immense power (yachts, cars, airplanes).
The lyrical subject refers to these three objects because semantically they represent the possibility of traveling by any means. Whereas, limited by the humble bicycle, he can only do it by land and with great limitations. However, adding the phrase “with wings” gives him the metaphorical possibility of flying in other ways.
On the other hand, at a certain point in the poem, the poetic self becomes autobiographical, alluding to the poet’s poetic work.
Thus, he refers to his poems that speak of the sea (Marinero en tierra, 1925) and of the angels (Sobre los Ángeles, 1929). In a similar way, he presents him as an exile from his homeland who remembers it with longing.
“Of medium height,
With a voice neither thin nor thick,
Eldest son of primary teacher
And from a backroom dressmaker;
Skinny from birth
Although devoted to good food;
And rather abundant ears;
With a square face
Where the eyes barely open
And a mulatto boxer nose
Go down to the Aztec idol’s mouth
-All this bathed
For a light between ironic and perfidious-
Neither very smart nor stupid
I was what I was: a mixture
Vinegar and oil to eat
A sausage of angel and beast! “
Analysis of the lyrical subject
On occasions, the lyrical subject reincarnates in the person of the poet to enter autobiographical situations. This is the case of the poemEpitaph by the Chilean poet Nicanor Parra (1914-2018).
In the extract, it is observed that the lyrical subject assumes the author to present a self-portrait. Always in an ironic tone, it offers a humorous side that contributes to creating an atmosphere of closeness, of familiarity. This tone begins to disappear as the poem develops, being serious and deep in the final verses.
This self-portrait results in physical descriptions of the author, many of them at times exaggerated. In the end, the lyrical subject resolves the situation by accepting the human condition of the poet. In the last lines he accepts the contradictory duality of the human being (vinegar and eating oil) and (sausage of angel and beast).
- Definition. (s / f). Definition of lyrical subject. Taken from definition of / lyrical-subject.
- Sánchez Torres, L. (1993). Poetry in the mirror of the poem: metapoetic practice in twentieth-century Spanish poetry. Oviedo: University of Oviedo.
- National Autonomous University of Mexico. (s / f). I poetic. Taken from portalacademico.cch.unam.mx.
- Digital Public School. (s / f). The lyrical “I”. Taken from contentsdigitales.ulp.edu.ar.
- Mansilla Torres, S. (2011). On the mestizo lyrical subject: an approach to subjectivity in the poetry of cultural memories. InChilean journal of literature, No. 78, pp. 69-90
- Pavlic, D. (s / f). The lyric subject and space. A comparison of traditional and modern lyric poetry. ojs.zrc-sazu.si.
- Alberti, R. (1998). Rafael Alberti for children. Madrid: Editions of the Tower.
- Rosal Nadales, M. (2010). The construction of the lyrical subject. A proposal for a didactic intervention based on writing by slogans. In Tejuelo, No. 8, pp. 77-94.
- Babel Matrix. (s / f). Parra, Nicanor: Epitaph (Epitafio in English). Taken from babelmatrix.org.